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South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have formed their own production studio, Important Studios, that will allow them to pursue film, TV and theater projects, including a possible movie version of “The Book of Mormon,” The New York Times reported.
Set to be announced Monday, Important Studios has an estimated value of $300 million based on revenue from Comedy Central hit series South Park, which is currently in its 16th season, and hit Broadway show The Book of Mormon.
“Having worked with several different studios over the years, we came to realize that our favorite people in the world are ourselves,” the Times quoted Parker and Stone as quipping.
Thanks to their talent agency William Morris Endeavor Entertainment and its boss, Ari Emanuel, Parker and Trey also got a $60 million investment from boutique investment bank Raine Group for a stake of approximately 20 percent. It is led by Joseph Ravitch, a former Goldman Sachs banker who has focused on entertainment and sports investments. WME is also an investor in Raine.
The deal to create a studio is the latest example of creatives looking to make their own business out of their ideas and relationships with fans. The Times cited the 2006 deal that helped American Idol host Ryan Seacrest launch Ryan Seacrest Productions.
Stone told the Times that he hoped Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks or George Lucas’ Lucasfilm would serve as models for Important Studios. “In some ways it’s a stupid comparison. because they are gargantuan,” he then said. “We want to be a smaller, more humble version of that. If DreamWorks is Walmart, we are over here knitting sweaters.”
Said Ravitch: “Our bet is they will create some exciting stuff over the next five years, and this allows them the creative and financial flexibility to own their future.”
The Times suggested that whenever Raine decides to sell its stake in Important Studios, bigger entertainment players, such as Comedy Central owner Viacom, could be interested.
Among the first projects that Important Studios is likely to develop is a film version of Book of Mormon, the Times said, without providing details. Last fall, Parker and Stone had said that they didn’t currently have such a film in the works but didn’t deny that they could sooner or later pursue that movie.
Broadway hit Book of Mormon has grossed more than $200 million. The New York production makes $1.6 million a week, the same amount a touring version makes, the producers told the Times. Another production in Chicago grosses $1.5 million a week, they said, and the hit show is also going into production in London.
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